Jobs Leave from Apple: 5 Money Lessons

When the incomparable Steve Jobs announced his medical leave from Apple it struck me like a nasty computer virus on my old PC. I had to stop doing what I was doing right away -- not to call the tech helpline in this case, but to rethink all my tech needs.

The issue for me: In the past few years my family of five has spent more than $10,000 on Apple products, ditching our exhausted laptops and towers from Dell and HP and replacing them with Macbooks and, in my case, a beautiful new iMac for my desktop. We're in deep with Apple, and we're going in even deeper as we are now beginning to swap out our cell phones and Blackberries for the iPhone.

We're late converts. I know that -- and it bothers me. My kids went first. I finally got there last year when I realized that Macs are virtually virus free. I could ditch my Norton firewall and never have to worry about one of those computer bugs that would shut me down without warning.

What concerns me is that Jobs is Apple. Have I bought into a product line that is peaking? Am I making this large investment in both dollars and time spent learning a new system late in the game? Metaphorically speaking, am I buying a great big house in 2007?

There are no clear answers. But the questions evoke some timeless money lessons that you might share with your kids:

  • Nothing is forever Fun parties eventually end; so do bull markets. It's smart to leave wanting more, lest you overstay and get hammered.
  • You can do your homework and still fail OK, hopefully not in school. But in life you can make sound decisions based on available information only to be knocked down by the unforeseeable. Keep the most options open for as long as you can.
  • Stay away from fads Things that come and go are a waste of money. My daughter's new Ray-Ban Aviators will be fashionable long after she's lost them.
  • Expect the unexpected Trends are only trends until they aren't. Something unexpected usually triggers a change. So be prepared. Have an emergency fund; your income may drop. Stay diversified so that one bad stock pick will barely register.
  • Don't fall in love with an investment Apple shares tumbled in the face of the Jobs news. I'm not saying to sell now. But you need to be ready to dump them if the business turns down. Just ask the folks who fell in love with Bear Stearns or Citigroup before the financial crisis.
Photo courtesy Flickr user 21250037@N03
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